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Diatomaceous Earth and I have a love affair that dates back five years…back to the day my 6-year-old daughter told me her head was “really, really itchy” and we discovered she had lice. It was at that moment that I realized my head had also been abnormally itchy and so was my husband's…and two of our other kiddos. FOR THE LOVE!
After two unsuccessful attempts to rid ourselves of lice with store-bought treatments, I took to the interwebs in search of a “non-toxic lice alternative.” Diatomaceous Earth (DE) was the stand-out winner in my books, for both ease and safety.
Sure enough, after just one treatment with DE, every last nit and egg were completely decimated. I had a hunch this wasn't the only miracle this powdery substance could perform, and sure enough, I can now list over 30 different uses for this wondrous product!
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
In a nutshell, DE is a powdery, chalk-like substance made from single-cell diatoms that have fossilized over thousands of years at the bottom of lake beds. Once these lakes dry up, the diatoms are exposed where they are collected, and then ground into a powder for our benefit.
It's important to source “food grade” DE, as anything else has undergone treatment and is not safe for consumption, use on humans/animals, or around the home. (But may work beautifully in your pool filter!)
Uses for Diatomaceous Earth
The general uses for DE can be broken down into the following categories:
- Uses for health and hygiene
- Uses for the home and garden
- Uses for our furry friends
Using DE for Health and Hygiene
Food grade DE is 84% silica and contains about 20 trace minerals. Silica is an important mineral for building and maintaining healthy joints, ligaments, teeth, bones, skin, hair, and nails. Many recommend taking food grade DE internally by mixing a small amount (1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon) into your food each day. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is either encapsulating the DE or hiding it in a smoothie.
Because DE is negatively charged, it detoxifies the body very efficiently, attracting to itself positively charged ions. This includes pathogenic fungi and bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, medication residues, pesticides, parasites, and radiation. The DE binds these pathogens to itself, allowing them to pass through our system where they're expelled.
Because of DE's great efficiency, it's recommended to start with a small amount (1/2 tsp per day) and work up to the amount your body can tolerate. It’s also good practice to take DE for 10 days on, then 10 days off. And, stay extra hydrated! If you're taking medications, you'll want to consult your healthcare practitioner as DE may negate the effects of certain medications.
DE may also help with the following:
- Improved nutrient absorption
- Less fatigue
- Lowered cholesterol & blood pressure
- Improved hair and nail growth
- Reduced wrinkles/age spots/acne
- Strengthens teeth/bones/tendons/joints
- Regulates bowel movements/cleans the colon
- Cough suppressant
- Prevents kidney stones/osteoporosis
- Decreases vertigo/tinnitus/insomnia
- Detox from heavy metals (associated with mercury fillings or elevated aluminum common in Alzheimer’s patients)
Using DE in the Home and Garden
Not only did we annihilate our lice infestation by using DE, but we successfully treated an ant infestation in our home. Because DE is made up of microscopic, razor sharp diatoms, it’s extremely dangerous to insects that have a waxy exoskeleton. The diatoms literally cut through that exoskeleton and act as a drying agent, dehydrating the bugs causing them to die. This is fantastic news for those dealing with lice because DE works both on the nits AND the eggs! (A fellow lice-suffering, homeschooling-mama brought out her trusty microscope just to be sure!)
DE is fantastic for use around the home because it's odor absorbing and slightly abrasive. We like to add a little into our DIY Deodorant Recipe to help absorb any body odor and also to our DIY Toothpaste Recipe, as the mildly abrasive texture helps clean our teeth like we just got home from the dentist!
Additional uses for DE around the home:
- Deodorize your home by sprinkling in your trash cans.
- Freshen your carpets, rugs, and bed by sprinkling with DE. Let it sit for 4-12 hours, then simply vacuum up. (This is fantastic for a bedbug infestation.)
- Keep spiders, ants, and other creepy crawlies out by sprinkling DE around the perimeter of your home. (You’ll have to reapply if it rains.)
- Eliminate pests from destroying your precious crops by sprinkling DE around the base and leaves of your plants. (But do take care not to sprinkle onto flowers.)
- Do you compost? Adding DE to your pile can help keep odors at bay and excess moisture out.
Using DE for our Furry Friends
DE is just as beneficial for our pets and livestock! Adding DE to your pet’s food from time to time will help keep your critters healthy and happy. (DE is said to strengthen chickens eggs and help prevent mastitis in milk cows!) Applying DE to pet's fur/coat can help eliminate fleas, ticks, flies, and other pests. Sprinkle DE in a litter box, around the stalls in your barn, or on the floor of your chicken coop to keep odor at bay and fleas, flies, and other pests away.
Do take care that you, nor your pet, inhale the powder. Food grade DE isn’t toxic (non-food grade DE is, however), but it can be mildly irritating to the eyes or lungs with prolonged exposure.
What About You?
Do you have any additional uses for Diatomaceous Earth to share? Let us know in the comments below how you use this fantastic product!